Caty Harty is a giver, and a humble one at that, “I’d rather give to others than receive,” says the Fitness Supervisor at YMCA Auckland City. And, she’s surrounded by people who share the same mentality. “When my Mum passed away a few months ago our members all chipped in and gave me a gift voucher, and when another staff member was having a tough time we made a hug in a box. The box was filled with gifts from our members that made her feel like she was being hugged.” The giving doesn’t stop there. At Christmas, Caty, her team and members extend their giving beyond Auckland City gym and deliver joy to the homes of others.

“One of our members told us about the Salvation Army family collection, so I contacted the Sallies and they gave us a family to collect for. I said, one is not enough, so we collected for three families. It’s the third year we’ve gifted to families in need,” she says. Caty and team mate Gail Mey are the driving force behind the collection, but as Caty says it’s the generosity of their members which makes the difference. “It’s all down to the people, our people, their kindness is overwhelming. One members’ Mum made tutus and tote bags. People get right behind it,” she says, smiling. The initiative, which fills three households with boxes of gifts and food ahead of Christmas Day, involves Caty and the team being told the ages and hobbies of three families. “Our members gift what’s suitable for each family - from toys to games and food. We leave all the gifts unwrapped so that mum or dad can wrap them, write a little message and put them under the tree. It’s quite an emotional experience,” she says.

Caty has been through her own trying times and says “it’s lovely to see so many people helping others.” Providing three families each with two large boxes filled with gifts and one filled with food is a wonderful achievement, but Caty desperately wanted to give to a fourth family this year. “That was my goal,” she says. Well, the generosity of her members made that Christmas wish a reality. “One of our members came into the gym, apologised for missing the deadline and donated enough money for us to buy gifts for a fourth family. That’s what I call amazing,” she says, smiling.

Caty says the giving will continue next Christmas, with four more families receiving gifts and festive treats. “A lot of our members have the YMCA vibe of honesty and caring. That’s the sort of people the YMCA attracts - people that give a damn and truly want to make a difference.” As for Caty, she gets pleasure out of knowing there’ll be smiles on the faces of four families this Christmas.